I didn’t decide at the age of 21 that I’d follow my creative calling and be an artist or action sports photographer, let alone the founder of a creative online learning platform. I simply started listening to my gut, and that woke something up in me. My creativity refused to be dormant. It gave me a thread to pull on and I unraveled it to move forward with my goals trusting they were mine.
When our dormant creativity wakes up, it guides us. I could trust myself to do what felt right, I knew the rest would take care of itself. The danger isn’t in finding our creativity, it’s in creativity forever remaining dormant.
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There’s No Such Thing as Creative People and Non-creative People
“There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are just people who use their creativity and people who don’t and not using it doesn’t go without penalty. As it turns out, unused creativity is not benign. It’s dangerous” Brené BrownAs it turns out, unused creativity is not benign. It's dangerous” - Brene Brown Click To Tweet
I can see now how dangerous unused creativity is. Early on for me, my creativity was sleeping. On the inside it was hiding, on the outside though, I was great on paper. I had a feeling, unrest, and a knowing but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had the best intentions and appropriate ambitions all neatly laid out with a clear plan to achieve my dream, the kind that reads well on paper. I even had the confidence that I could actually succeed at doing this. If the outside was powered with confidence and ambition, the inside countered with feeling lost, unsettled, and emotionally absent.
Was It Benign Creativity Leading Me in the Wrong Direction?
How could I follow my plan when I felt so stuck. The plan on its own made sense, but it was missing something from within. The idea of where this plan would take me left me cold and empty. The year before I had quit the opportunity to pursue professional soccer and now I was off to med school. I was plunging into another direction that was disconnected from my goals and was more connected to seeking the approval of others and doing the ‘right’ thing.
I experienced the loss of a loved one, my grandfather. This was a shifting moment. It instigated something inside of me. I knew that if I was going to pursue my creative calling, I had only one life to do it in. If I didn’t do it now, I never would.
So I wasn’t going to be a doctor and heal the sick, but where did I belong? This might be a question we’ve all asked at some point along the way, “What is my calling?” The truth is, I didn’t know the details yet, but I knew it was there.
A Calling Won’t Come From a Loudspeaker, It’s More of a Whisper
I was at a crossroads. A very safe path leading one way, and one rife with uncertainty and possibility the other way. A calling, it’s just that isn’t it, something calling. Often, it’s not even a loud call, it’s more of a whisper.
A whisper calling out from a distance. Something within. It’s not so much getting hit on a head with a hammer one day. Most of us don’t wake up and spontaneously decide that we’re born to be a horse veterinarian or an opera singer. These ideas are stories we’ve told ourselves or that society and our environment lead us to. We find ourselves wherever we happen to end up.
No, a calling won’t come from a loudspeaker, it’s an intuitive hint, a sort of nudge from within. It’s that push we feel when we do something that feels right, “Ah, this is awesome.”
I feel a little vibe inside my heart, my soul, my brain. It’s the feeling that it’s good and we want to keep doing it and see where it leads to. The audible little phrases we say to ourselves or the ones we hear in our guts are the guideposts. Soon, we realize we’re walking our own path no matter where it’s leading. We’re exactly where we’re meant to be.
So no, I didn’t suddenly decide to be creative at the age of 21. It was more simple than that. I started listening to my gut and how I felt and with that, I started trusting myself. When I started taking action in the direction that felt right, time and time again, I realized the rest would take care of itself.
Our parents and career counselors will never tell us that it does work out. Other people who may think they have our best interests in mind don’t follow the feeling. They lead with fear, they believe it won’t work out. It takes courage to listen to something deeper and follow our guts.
I summoned the courage to disappoint other people in my life. This may or may not be true for all of us. When we courageously follow our creative soul, listen to the gut and lead with the feeling, it’s possible that other people will be disappointed. We’ve got to summon the courage to follow the guideposts anyways.
For me, I summoned everything I had and took my first hesitant leap down the path of my soulful, creative calling.
We Are Born Creative
Turns out I’m still on that path. I can say I never looked back. The cool thing about being creative is that it doesn’t mean a complete overhaul of our lives. It doesn’t mean we must quit our jobs, don a beret and move to Paris. Creativity doesn’t require these things.
Creativity doesn’t require us to be any other persona or try on anything new. Forget what society has told us about creativity and we can feel in our hearts that we already know what it means to be a creator.
Creativity is life-sustaining, it’s essentially part of human function. We’re all born to be creative in the same sense we’re all born to breathe the air. The trouble is we’re taught that creativity is bad or worthless and to pursue something else, we’re encouraged to put the creativity to rest.
Great news, things are different now, and we’re waking up along with our creative nature. We’re all born creative. Creativity welcomes us and invites us all to embrace it and enjoy everything it has to offer.
I’ll riff on this topic even more in this podcast episode. It helps to explore the possibilities when we start to listen and respond to the whispers, calling us to wake up dormant creativity.
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This podcast is brought to you by CreativeLive. CreativeLive is the world’s largest hub for online creative education in photo/video, art/design, music/audio, craft/maker, money/life and the ability to make a living in any of those disciplines. They are high quality, highly curated classes taught by the world’s top experts — Pulitzer, Oscar, Grammy Award winners, New York Times best selling authors and the best entrepreneurs of our times.